Does french rap music rime with feminism ?
Rap music, which most people consider to be rather misogynistic, is not consistent with feminism. And yet, it is. Of course, it can’t be denied that there is other degrading music towards women. But there are some rap songs that are respectful of women, egalitarian and pro-feminist, proving they have other facets more interesting about women and their rights. In the mainstream media, most of the time when they talk rap music, it’s often because of clashes between Booba and his multiple rivals, to denounce sexism in Orelsan’s or Kaaris’ lyrics, or to criticize Sofiane, the rapper who blocked a motorway for one of his music videos. It is certainly not to highlight the art that is French rap, with lyrics so beautiful, and truly important messages. Nor do they seek to change the stereotypes that picture rap as misogynist and sexist, when in fact many rappers deliver pro-feminist messages, proving that French rap and feminism can go hand in hand.
Médine, Combat de femme (Woman’s fight)
In three verses, the rapper from Le Havre describes the journey of a mother, a sister and a wife. The strength of this music is that the text does not even have a moralist goal; it’s just a simple statement that indirectly aims at making you relate. This music is incredibly feminist, it lists and clearly indicates the cultural and social inequalities women suffer from, while praising the women who master their own destinies, whom men entirely rely on.
When mothers give birth to girls and girls become women
Become sisters, damsels and ladies
Women fight and have since the early ages
And whatever their name they are synonymous with courage
The face that comforts our carcasses
Cancels the hassle, relieves sarcasm
At the slightest problem, she jumps into combat
Fighting lionesses, fighting princesses and queens
Lorsque les mères enfantent les filles et les filles deviennent femmes
Deviennent des sœurs, des demoiselles puis des dames
Combattre au féminin et ce depuis les premiers âges
Et quelque soit leur nom elles sont synonymes de courage
Le visage qui réconforte nos carcasses
Éloigne du tracas, soulage des sarcasmes
Au moindre problème se jette dans l'arène
Combat de lionnes, combat de princesses et de reines
Georgio, Svetlana et Maïakovski (Svetlana and Maïakovski)
This title could just be telling about one particular Parisian prostitute, but it’s more than that. It is the story of a young Russian woman, whose dreams were broken, finding herself without money with the obligation to prostitute herself, damaged by alcohol and disillusions, who lives a hard and lonely life and who seems to have abandoned the desire to escape and is letting herself die. With a poetic feel to it, the text sounds as raw as Vladimir Maïakovski’s poems, but the song is very moving thanks to the depth of the melody. The young rapper, a Parisian from the 18th arrondissement, gives this woman her humanity back, when she was considered as a mere object.
Svetlana contacte ses amis, ment sa vie sur Internet
La princesse de la toundra n'est qu'une pute à Paris
Elle se cache pour pleurer, en séchant ses yeux elle comprit
Qu'elle essuyait ses rêves, qu'ici, c'est la guerre froide sans trêve
Svetlana calls her friends, lies about her life on the Internet
The princess of the tundra is only a whore in Paris
She hides to cry, drying her eyes she understands
That she wiped her dreams, that here it’s the cold war with no truce
IAM – Une femme seule (A single woman)
An ode to single mothers, this song deals with a common social phenomenon that is rarely sung about: single parenthood, one of the most unquestionable inequality between men and women. Thousands of mothers take sole responsibility for their children, which often prevents them from blossoming in their personal or professional life. Akhenaton (the rapper) only reveals the identity of the protagonist at the end, with humility: ‘If I speak to you in this sincere, open way / It’s because that single woman was my mother’.
She was dignified worthy proud as a mother
Ignoring the loneliness that took her in its claws
The day she remained head high, unblinking
The night in her room she was hiding to cry
She was working two jobs
To be able to buy decent clothes to her children
Elle était digne fière responsable comme une mère
Ignorant la solitude qui la prit dans ses serres
Le jour la tête haute impassible elle restait
La nuit dans sa chambre elle se cachait pour pleurer
Elle travaillait faisait deux jobs en même temps
Pour pouvoir payer des vêtements décents à ses enfants
S-Crew, Les Parisiennes (Parisian women)
In this funky song, the four Parisians of S-Crew tell us about the party life and loves of the Parisian women: a never-ending parade of cocktails and conquests, where physical appearance is the key. With this song, they describe how Parisian women see love as a game because of their previous bad relationships where they suffered. The four rappers show us how these young women enjoying their independence to the fullest.